NFL Prospect Comparisons to Current Players
Whether you’re looking at the NFL Draft or your dynasty fantasy football league’s rookie draft, you need to know all you can about this year’s prospects. Now that the NFL combine is in the rear view, we can start analyzing players in depth. Here’s how five of the most interesting prospects compare to real NFL players on a measurables basis.
|40 Yard Dash||4.51s||96|
|20 Yard Shuttle||4.16s||88|
|60 Yard Shuttle||11.46s||95|
|Bench Press||22 reps||64|
Talk about an athlete. That 4.51 40-yard dash time is the ninth fastest for tight ends since 2010. Only two of those players weighed as much or more than Howard, which makes that time even more impressive. It’s hardly possible to fault his poor vertical when you realize he has the seventh-best 3-cone time, and fourth-best shuttle time among the 138 combine TEs since 2010.
Using the RotoViz Box Score Scout, his most similar players are:
Those comps are very good. All of them have had long NFL careers, and Kelce, Eifert, Fleener, Barnidge, and Scheffler have had fantasy success. Willson has shown flashes and may finally get a chance to play a bigger offensive role, depending on where he goes in free agency. Tight end is difficult to play, but Howard has elite athleticism for the position. Again, that explosion (broad jump) and agility (cone) at his weight is really impressive.
|40 Yard Dash||4.22s||99|
He may be short, he may be light, but he can jump – and run – out of the gym. Ross turned in a 4.22 40-yard dash at 188 pounds. That’s better than Dri Archer (4.26, 173), Will Fuller (4.32, 186), and Brandin Cooks (4.33, 189). We’ll have to wait for his pro day to get numbers for some of the other drills, but his 133-inch broad jump is the fourth-best for WRs at the combine since 2010.
Athletically, Ross compares very favorably to one of the best speed demons of our time.
The final column, speed score, adjusts 40 time by weight. A score of 100 is average. Ross’ 4.22 at 188 pounds is equivalent to Mike Wallace’s 4.28 at 199 pounds. Phew. Ross does have small hands so that may be something to watch out for, but athletically he’s a marvel.
Christian McCaffrey (RB – Stanford)
|40 Yard Dash||4.48s||81|
|20 Yard Shuttle||4.22s||56|
|Bench Press||10 reps||1|
He’s not that big, he’s not that strong, but he’s fast and amazingly agile. That 6.57 second 3-cone time is the second-best for RBs at the combine since 2010.
Admittedly, those comps are cherry-picked. Ultimately we’ll want to take production, draft position, and landing spot into account. But for this exercise, finding the best athletic comparables is illuminating. McCaffrey might make a decent pivot if you miss out on Dalvin Cook, for example. It’s also true that the modern NFL is a more specialized game than it used to be, and while McCaffrey may not be built to be a “workhorse” he certainly profiles well as a pass catcher and third-down threat.
Brian Hill (RB – Wyoming)
|40 Yard Dash||4.54s||62|
|20 Yard Shuttle||4.32s||40|
|Bench Press||15 reps||13|
Brian Hill lacks the notoriety of some of the other RBs in this class. And his athleticism doesn’t really pop, except for the broad jump. But things get interesting when we consider his athleticism as a whole.
Hill fits smack-dab in the middle of a group of flat-out studs. Of course the odds are long that Hill becomes the next Adrian Peterson. But it’s very intriguing to see what kind of company Hill is keeping athletically. He’s got the size and enough all around athleticism to be a real difference maker.
Curtis Samuel (WR – Ohio State)
|40 Yard Dash||4.31s||96|
|20 Yard Shuttle||4.33s||20|
|Bench Press||18 reps||78|
That 40-yard dash time is in the top 10 since 2010, for WRs and RBs at the combine. The rest of Samuel’s athletic profile doesn’t stand out on its own, but much like Brian Hill, it gets interesting when we look at his complete athletic profile.
As with the other players in this study, draft position and production are important variables that aren’t accounted for here. Strictly from an athletic point of view, however, Samuel holds his own with four of the best small WRs in the NFL. He’s faster than all of them, and arguably as explosive too, sporting the best vertical of the group.
As the NFL calendar marches steadily toward the draft, it’s important to learn what we can about this year’s prospects. Understanding their athleticism, and where they fit in with their peers, is an important part of that. We’ve barely scratched the surface, so stay tuned to FantasyPros for more insight and analysis.
Charlie Kleinheksel is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Charlie, check out his archive.